Posts Tagged ‘crowd psychology’

In with the in-crowd

Thursday, October 30th, 2008 by Jon Clements


As “Sachs-Gate” rises up the BBC hierarchy, the whole Brand/Ross furore has been an instructive lesson in crowd psychology and crisis management.

On the first point, by yesterday morning 18,000 people had complained about the offending broadcast on Russell Brand’s show. By last night, when both presenters had already been suspended and Brand, ultimately, resigned, another 11,000 had added their ire. Why? And how many of them had heard the actual radio item?

Thanks to Wise Geek for the science bit, it might be something to do with “individuals adapting to the expectations of the surrounding culture…in order to identify with the crowd”. A bit of shared experience or, in this case, a collective moan. It’s certainly a phenomenon that’s playing out in social media situations and shows how a poor response to a crisis can escalate.

It took the BBC from Sunday, when the story broke, to yesterday for the Corporation to act decisively. A Sun journalist I spoke to last night suggested it was the worst example of crisis comms he’d seen. If the BBC had apologised and suspended them both straight away, he felt, the story would have died and each presenter could have carried on as before, though probably wiser to the boundaries of public taste.

The old wag, John Cleese – no stranger to media controversy affecting comedians – says in today’s Times: “It’s important to hire people with enough taste to censor  themselves. I thought Jonathan Ross had that.”

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''